The 2020-21 Arizona Coyotes have been in the news of late and we thought we’d catch everyone up on the latest.
2020-21 Arizona Coyotes Latest News
The 2020-21 schedule has been released. The Coyotes with the new condensed schedule will be playing back-to-back games seven times this season. That had to be expected due to the shortened 56-game slate caused by the pandemic. What it will mean is players could get injured more easily. And having a taxi squad will be imperative to get through the grind of a compacted schedule. The team will actually play 56 games in 110 calendar days. Conditioning will be the focus of every NHL squad. You hear that Phil Kessel?
On a good note, new general manager Bill Armstrong feels his team has young legs and may be able to get other teams exhausted easier. The other issue, of course, is the opponents that the Desert Dogs will face. They actually will be pitted against three normally Central Division teams in the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and the Minnesota Wild. They even face their desert rival Vegas Golden Knights in a home-and-home two-game series in the third through sixth games of the season. That could be an early-season nightmare if they can’t get past the Vegas club.
2020-21 Arizona Coyotes – Central Division Here We Come
You may look at that from two different perspectives. It may be realistic for the team to get accustomed to playing these teams since after this season they will move to the competitive Central Division. Or, you could see that the Coyotes may be overmatched facing teams much better than them.
The objective of this schedule for the entire NHL is to limit travel and to get as many games played as possible. The schedule is filled with back-to-back games against the same opponent to again… limit travel. The Coyotes have a slight advantage in that they are located close enough to the California teams as well as Las Vegas. Their longest road trips will be to Minnesota and St. Louis. They have an eight-game road trip as well as two six-games encounters. They do, however, have a 10-game homestand from mid-February to March 6th.
2020-21 Arizona Coyotes Games Are Being Played in Gila River Arena
The ownership of the team feels they can have limited seating capacity while following all the required health guidelines needed to ensure everyone’s safety. Whether that is a prudent decision or not, we shall see what happens. Let’s face it, some fans who want to attend will not be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. That may not happen until perhaps near the end of the season. So much for attempting to only allow fans into the arena who have proof that they have been immunized. It may be estimated that only 3,000-5,000 fans can be permitted in the arena using typical social distancing guidelines. That will surely hurt any potential revenue the club wished to receive. The attendance may be held down due to some fans not taking the chance of either catching COVID-19 or spreading it. It’s a whole new world order out there now.
Ads on Helmets?
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 22, 2020
Yep… so when a business is losing money (up to $1 million a game or more) they must determine how to fix that. The NHL has decided that ads on helmets can be part of the solution. It will bring in about $2.5 million for each team this upcoming 2020-21 season. While that seems inadequate to recover gate receipts, it’s a start. The next step may be ads on uniforms, as is done in Europe. That would be a tragedy to ruin the look of popular jerseys. Again, this is a financial move and the team cannot change the ads once they decide on one. What should the Coyotes helmet ad be? Look for sponsors of the team to line up for a competitive contest to get their company’s name on the player’s headgear.
The Coyotes signed former Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers gritty forward Drake Caggiula to a one-year deal. He goes along with GM Armstrong’s focus of making his team a bit harder to play against. He may have an offensive upside he’s yet to demonstrate, so it’s a good signing. Another possible new face on the roster could be former Toronto Maple Leafs centre Frederik Gauthier who could get a PTO offer from the team. The Coyotes theory is you can never have enough centres on your squad.
Sounds like former TOR C Frederik Gauthier is weighing a PTO w/ARIZ. The Coyotes are looking for a centre.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 22, 2020
Along with the announced new players, another trade rumour has surfaced concerning forward Derek Stepan. According to some sources, he may be headed to the Ottawa Senators. That would not be such a huge surprise considering his $6.5 million cap hit. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season and the Coyotes desperately need to get below the cap. Unloading a big contract like Stepan’s is merely a business decision. Ottawa has $12.5 million in cap space and also holds three precious second-round draft picks… something the Yotes lack. Yet, according to Coyotes insider, Craig Morgan, Stepan’s agent disagrees with the rumours.
I spoke briefly w/Derek Stepan’s agent, Matt Oates, regarding trade rumors surrounding the Coyotes center & the Ottawa Senators, 1st reported by @TSNSimmer:
“I have no idea where this report came from,” said Oates, adding that there is no truth to Stepan wanting out of Arizona.
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) December 23, 2020
New Arena Lost in the Shuffle
Morgan also noted that the arena situation has been stalled by the pandemic. The lease for the Gila River arena automatically kicks in on Dec. 31st unless the team opts out. It appears that the city of Glendale is still very much interested in keeping the Coyotes in Glendale and would like the team to sign a multi-year lease agreement. That pretty much means any wild grandeur ideas of a new arena anytime soon are not happening. Thanks, pandemic. As if you haven’t made life difficult enough.
It also becomes a financial nightmare for the ownership of the team to even think of spending buckets of money on a new facility when they are bleeding financially. Alex Meruelo didn’t become a billionaire because he made outrageous business decisions. Keep dreaming of a new arena, fans, because it is just that… a dream.
The good part is that soon we will have hockey again. While it’s been a long and arduous road getting here, we made it… at least for now. We’ve suffered through nine months of a deadly pandemic and now it’s time to put some joy back into our lives.
Hockey is back.